What a difference a week makes. Trysting Tree Golf Course was underwater a week ago, with boats rowing down what used to be fairways, today the Oregon State golf team practices. How did this dramatic turnaround come to be? I spoke to superintendent Pat Doran to find out.
According to Doran, Trysting Tree floods almost every year but he said this year was the second worst flood he has seen. He pointed out water level marks on the walls of one of the restrooms as we drove around the course. The mark appeared to be around four to four and a half feet high.
Doran said that the course was designed with an excellent drainage system. The backs of greens and tees are also above the floodplain. He said that the best drainage is actually the soil itself. The constant flooding of the river deposits high levels of nitrogen from the river. This nitrogen has helped the soil become very rich and fertile. Doran also said that he had aerated the soil before the flooding. Aeration is when you punch holes into the ground to keep the roots of the grass healthy. Doran also told me he took the cores of the soil and chopped them up and spread them on the greens to keep them healthy.
I must state that I am familiar with golf course maintenance, my father was a golf course superintendent for my entire life.. Even with this background, the condition of Trysting Tree was shocking to me. The fairways were firm, the greens were firm, the bunkers were well maintained. The only problem area was the practice greens, which weren’t in terrible shape. Doran told me he wanted to re-aerate the practice green to get it up to top condition, but it was still in firm playable condition. In fact, with high school golfers scheduled for a championship preview this week, neither they or Trysting Tree believed there would be any need to reschedule.
From underwater to playable in under a week is amazing for a golf course. There were designs in place to help, but as with most things in life, it really comes down to hard work and knowledge. Pat Doran employed both, he had help from his maintenance crew which includes Oregon State University students in the Turfgrass Management Program, but he was prepared for the flood and recovered from it well. The quick turnaround is almost unbelievable, but the players on the course will tell you it can happen.
-By Jonah Anderson